Everton v Bournemouth Preview

And it goes a little something like this. 

After a long arduous season of invoking loathing and anger amongst its enthusiasts, Everton decide to take those frayed nerves right to the line in a final day shit or bust special. Quite telling is that many of  those enthusiasts view this as a positive as a) Everton are not already down and b) it’s still in Everton’s hands. For now. 

If you think back to when Moshiri took over, the marketing campaign for that summer’s season tickets was Nothing Will Be The Same and one can’t help but marvel at how fucking spot on they were as a nearly two decades of swerving relegation angst ended the moment the oligarch’s accountant stepped through the doors and decided to pump his great great grandchildren’s inheritance into hideous players and managers for Everton football club, and give the hugely unfortunate but surely masochistic younger fans a taste of the PTSD many of us still carry from 1994 and 1998. As next season is scheduled to be Everton’s final full season at Goodison Park just gives it that crueller edge, and edge which Everton seem to specialise in.

There’s various approaches to this game amongst Evertonia, right through the scale from enforced dissonance, to fucking hell my entire existence is falling part, to burning the Bournemouth bus the night before. Whichever path feels best for you is entirely your choice, we’re a broad church and everyone is allowed their own coping mechanisms. I’m pretty sure Bournemouth’s hotelier has briefed the nightwatch staff to not put calls through to rooms and not freak too much when the entire building is shaking through colourful aerial gunpowder at three in the morning. Marginal gains matter to Evertonians when so much is at stake, or perhaps indulging anarchy is just a tonic to our unruly soul in times of uncertain chaos? 

When the 22/23 fixtures came out in summer many of us scanned through the two derbies, holiday period games and then straight to the end of the season to see what Everton may need to stay up. Bournemouth then, as it is now, isn’t too terrible. More so when you consider they’re already safe. With full awareness that by typing this screams “Everton defo fuck this up then”, it is the plum home tie out of the three teams battling to retain their status for another season in the hellscape of modern Premier League. As aspirational a belonging as a Wirral Tory yet we’re all pretty much in agreement that Everton’s deserved exit from it would be a really big fucking stake through its blood sucking heart, as modern fans now demonstrate a chartered accountant knowledge of finances in order to fit in online. I do wish I could pad this preview out with cree little observations and convincing dissonance but, dear reader, the ennui hangs over me. Fuck all those who took a great wage to bring a sports club I identify way too much with to this Armageddic Sunday. 

Feels like a load off that. Phew. Therapy by preview. 

Everton know exactly what they have to which is one of three things: 1) beat Bournemouth 2) draw and hope Leicester don’t win and Leeds don’t win by more than three goals, or 3) draw and hope Leicester and Leeds either lose or draw. The obvious objective here would be to go and beat Bournemouth. Pressure, however, has varying effects on different humans whether on the field, directing from the sidelines or generating the atmosphere in the stands. In the way a particularly bad boss causes one to second guess normal day to day decisions I’d like you to just simply replace the concept of “bad boss” there with “being part of a cataclysmic cast of shitehawks that finally took Everton down creating a stain on your family name that will see your grandchildren bullied by future Evertonians when they work out they come from your blood line”. Just play it long, Michael. 

This is usually the place when I’d take a look at our opposition and find satiric angles on their peculiar tribal behaviour, fashion sense, mating habits and personal hygiene but I’ll be forgoing that in this as I doubt anyone’s really arsed and I don’t want to irk any sort of spiteful God, one that has a particular penchant for samey fan previews on the internet. If previously I’ve called them XR3i driving southern Tories then I hope they realise I said that in jest. Should I perhaps have referred to them as the heavy fragrance baby wiped sphincter of the wretched landmass that is England, then I’m sure both they and any lurking spite Gods rolled their eyes and mouthed yeah yeah, before clicking on something else marginally less mind numbing. Like, for example, watching Everton trying to transition attacking play when devoid of Calvert-Lewin and McNeil is in his own half covering the left back position. 

Which is a sloppy but acceptable segue into second guessing what team the gravel-gargling-pack-the-midfield-human-scotch-egg Dyche might deploy in this all round head fuck of a game we got ourselves this Sunday. Injuries haven’t helped, with one away point darkened by two pinged hamstrings last weekend in the Black Country. That means someone else will be up front and Dyche has some decisions to make on formation and personnel. 

Aye, probably Maupay when you’d prefer something else. You don’t see them in training though klaxon, no but I see them on the pitch, mate. Which brings us to what I believe is the biggest sliding doors moment of this moment in time: is Mykolenko fit? If he is then you’ve got a creative outlet in McNeil up the right end of the pitch, useful when you are trying to win a game. Should the maligned Ukrainian not be fit then McNeil is going to be somewhat nullified either as a full back or wing back. There’ll be ramifications on the game dependent on which of these scenario plays out. Be able to play four at the back and you might get away with hiding Holgate at right back, and push Iwobi further forward. Or Iwobi at right back, at wing back, and Gray further forward? I’m doing that second guessing thing.

You know I can’t muster the energy to go into any hypotheticals or pretend tactical nous, I just want Everton to somehow get over the line and not be relegated. Which prevents the end of this preview being a call to arms or digital war cry eulogising past times and heroes as an aspirational model for this one. 

Truth is I’ve got used to shit Evertons and at some point I’d like an Everton to enhance my habitual observing on a weekend, and during weekday games too if they’re up for it. A lot of people I know and love put their self worth in the football club and it’s quite difficult to watch them suffer in the weeks leading up to this doomsday. Anything to ease that and give them, me, us, a summer free from Everton related anxiety or shame would be really welcome. That’s my simple wish. Everton’s damage has been done throughout the season and seasons before that in the making, but they’re at this point now with one shot to get out of it, if only for another year. Right now that would feel sound. What comes after will be but everything, all, is about four thirty pm at Goodison Park this Sunday. 

It’s like that, and that’s the way it is. 

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